An in-ground sprinkler system takes some maintenance, especially if you reside in a region of the country that is experiencing a severe drought. Following municipal water limits, programming the network controller to avoid overwatering (or hiring a specialist to handle it), and hoping you’re available to turn the system off to reduce water consumption and finances if it ever does rain are all necessary. The intelligent sprinkler controller tries to alleviate those problems. An intelligent sprinkler controller controls watering based on the weather, much as smart thermostats have transformed how homes are heated and cooled by automatically altering thermostats based on individual preferences. These $100–300 electrically controlled gadgets take the place of the sprinkler system’s old programmed timer to open and close the water valves. Your sprinkler may therefore follow the prediction rather than sticking to a predefined timetable. The best part is that these models’ smartphone app controls make it easier to set them to follow water limits.
Instead of having gauges that track actual rainfall, these devices feature WiFi connections that enable them to use meteorological information retrieved from the world wide web to decide when to water plants. Depending on how much rain you get, if the controller anticipates an afternoon storm, irrigation may be postponed until that evening or perhaps for many days. Some intelligent sprinkler controllers collaborate with home temperature measurements or soil humidity sensors to more precisely detect how often rain falls in the yard, allowing you to water your lawn with even greater precision. Here, we assess if the controls are easy to use and waterproof, and how straightforward it is to link them to the sprinkler system’s water valves. The controller’s internet connection status is another thing we monitor. We get actual precipitation data from a rain gauge to determine a system’s watering accuracy, and then we analyze the data to determine the amount that a microcontroller overwaters or underwaters.
- Must-Have WaterSense Accreditation
Similar to how household appliances may carry the High-Efficiency certification for energy efficiency, sprinkler control systems can carry the WaterSense certification from the Department Of Environment for irrigation efficiency and conservation. Sprinkler controllers that do not just serve as on/off timers but also include local meteorological information and/or soil moisture measurements into their spraying schedules are required to have the WaterSense certification. Despite having a WaterSense certification, not all of the systems we assess adhere to the same irrigation schedules. This is because each model utilizes different weather reports. These variations are accounted for by our testing. Our weather responsiveness grade reveals how well a controller’s watering program adapts to the weather.
- Know the Watering Zones for Your System
There are several zones of piping and spray heads in in-ground sprinklers. Because homes often do not have the sufficient water-flow capacity to serve all the zones at once, the system then feeds water to every zone one at a time. The amount of zones that a controller can manage determines how much it costs.
The majority of the control systems we evaluated are capable of managing seven or eight areas, and several of them have upgraded versions that can manage more. For instance, the 16-zone sprinkler controller, which costs $50 more than the eight-zone model and costs roughly $200, is also available. Before investing in a new controller, make careful to verify the number of zones that are present in your system. A controller with insufficient zones won’t be able to irrigate all the required regions if you purchase one.
- Rewiring is involved in the installation
Your smart sprinklers controller will need to be installed by a professional if you’re not confident handling any type of wiring. Although low-voltage wire is required, you may install the gadget yourself using the recommended guidelines as a reference. This is the same wiring that is required for video doorbells. To operate an HVAC system, the procedure is comparable to installing a thermostat. Simply connect the necessary cabling to the appropriate terminals.
- Think About the Controls
The majority of the systems we examine let you control them using the device’s physical controls and through an app on a smartphone. All of these allow you to control your sprinkler system or link it with other intelligent home goods by working with virtual assistants and/or products and systems, including Alexa Voice, Apple HomeKit and Siri, Voice Assistant, and Smart Speakers. Consider the characteristics that will make it easiest for you to handle your sprinkler system individually, and be sure to look for such qualities when you purchase.
- Not Every Control Device Is Weatherproof
Only two of such controllers examined had waterproof construction, which is fairly unexpected. The remainder must either be put indoors or require extra weatherproof housing, which you must buy separately and costs roughly $30 for the types used in our tests.